By Antony Dickson
There are always the true off-roaders. They are built strong and rugged and always ready to take on an off-road challenge. One look at an actual off-road vehicle would actually tell what it was all about. But then, the crossovers came… trying to attract customers who wanted a little of both worlds – a city car and a weekend adventure vehicle. That, in my opinion blurred the line between an off-road vehicle and a city vehicle. And this is just what happened to the once rugged-looking go-anywhere Nissan Pathfinder.
But then, most SUV owners never ever venture out off the road to hit the trails. So this works out perfectly for the Nissan Pathfinder. For customers who want a vehicle that’s a seven-seater with space for cargo and that isn’t a van, the new Pathfinder is a great choice. It’s got loads of room and has a lovely smooth ride with decent space in the back for storage.
The fourth generation Pathfinder is looks a lot less aggressive and shares a close resemblance to its cousin the Infiniti JX. In my opinion, the new Pathfinder has lost its true character as a serious off-roader. It’s ore sober looking and has rounder edges. Other exterior details include a wide chrome grille and large aerodynamic headlights, recessed front windshield wipers, chrome door handles and large rear combination lights. An available Dual Panorama Moonroof, with sliding opening front panel and fixed rear glass panel which extends over the second and third rows, combines with the large windows to create an open, airy interior environment.
It still has AWD capabilities and with the available intuitive four-wheel drive, Pathfinder does offer a choice for inclement weather driving conditions. Pathfinder is the only vehicle in class with selectable 2WD, Auto or 4WD modes for its available intuitive ALL-MODE 4×4-i system. The system lets the driver choose full-time 2WD for maximum fuel economy, Auto mode to automatically monitor conditions and adjust the balance of power between front and rear wheels for best traction, or 4WD Lock mode when the confidence of full-time 4WD is desired. In addition, standard Hill Start Assist helps add control when starting and driving away on a steep incline (both 4WD and 2WD models).
The new Pathfinder is powered by an all-new drivetrain featuring a 3.5-litre DOHC V6 engine mated to a next-generation Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) to help provide a significant increase in combined city/highway fuel economy (over the previous V6-equipped model). The CVT could annoy some drivers but they have proven to be good on gas, which gives us no reason to complain. The CVT holds the engine at the ideal rpm for the conditions at hand, offering responsive power for passing or towing when needed, and quiet efficient running at cruising speeds or around town. The new engine and CVT combination maintains nearly the same horsepower as the previous generation’s larger displacement 4.0-litre V6 – 260 horsepower versus the previous 266 – and delivers responsive acceleration in a variety of conditions. Though official figures state the fuel economy at 7.7L/100km highway; 10.5L/100km city and 9.3L/100km combined for the 2WD model and 7.9L/100km Highway; 10.8/L/100km City and 9.5L/100 km combined for the 4WD model, I averaged around 11L/100 km combined, which is pretty decent for a vehicle of this size.
The new Pathfinder is a three-row/seven-passenger SUV with the seating and cargo capacity that growing families need, offering the benefits of a modern crossover with the comfort of a larger SUV. Use of the unibody platform provides numerous benefits, including a flat floor for enhanced interior packaging flexibility and more space. Overall interior roominess has been increased by 238 litres versus the 2012 Pathfinder design.
One of the unique features in the new Pathfinder is the easy access to the third row even with a child safety seat on the second row seat thanks to large rear door openings and the EZ Flex Seating System with 5.5 inches of second row seat travel. The 60/40-split second row features innovative ‘Latch and Glide’ technology that allows forward movement and access to the 3rdrow with a child safety seat remaining securely in place (on the passenger curb side). This feature makes life very easy for customers with little kids.
Besides space, the new Pathfinder offers a host of features that makes it a pleasure to drive everyday. Pathfinder’s interior includes a wide range of available features, including three rows of rich leather-appointed seating surfaces, heated and cooled front seats, heated second row seats, heated steering wheel, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Start (standard), multiple user memory settings and an advanced Bose Audio System with 13 speakers. The new Pathfinder also features Nissan’s advanced, class-exclusive Around View Monitor, which provides the driver a virtual 360-degree image of the area around the vehicle. Other technology includes Tri-Zone Automatic Climate Control, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System, power rear liftgate, iPod integration, and tri-zone entertainment system with 2nd row head restraint-mounted DVD display screens.
Overall, the new Pathfinder does not disappoint at all. It’s a smooth economic ride that can transport seven people in any kind of weather conditions. It makes a perfect daily driver for a large family. Surely this is an SUV that feels at home in the city. Furthermore, it is competitively priced. The Pathfinder as tested (Nissan Pathfinder SL 4WD) was priced as $39, 553.